Dublin City Council to crack down on owners of derelict sites

Council says it has been ‘too deferential’ and ‘unduly tolerant’ of run down buildings

A building on North Great Frederick Street in Dublin is treated by workers. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

A building on North Great Frederick Street in Dublin is treated by workers. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

Dublin landowners who allow buildings and sites to fall into dereliction face compulsory purchase of their property under a Dublin City Council crackdown on derelict sites.

Council chief executive Owen Keegan said the council has been “too deferential” to property owners and “unduly tolerant” of sites which are a blight on the city.

The council needs to take a more proactive approach to buildings and sites which are being allowed to run down and remain undeveloped, sometimes for years, in the city centre, he said.

“I think we have been unduly tolerant and not cognisant of the negative externalities of holding a building for its hope value.

“We let that happen right throughout the boom . . . There is a concern about the number of persistent derelict sites that have survived one or two booms and seem to be lying idle.”

The council was in the process of compiling a list of private property which could be suitable for purchase, Mr Keegan said.

In the first instance, property owners would be approached and given the opportunity to repair or redevelop their site or building.

However, he said, if they were unable or unwilling to do so, the council would use its powers to acquire the building.

Unfair to public

“There are a range of possible interventions, but we need to get our act together and go out and deal proactively with property owners.

“Either to get them to do it or, in the event that they won’t, we need to use the powers we have.

“Because the negative externalities associated with a derelict building are something the general public should not have to bear.”

The council should take advantage of the recovery in the property market and use its compulsory purchase and derelict sites acquisition powers to buy property which it could either sell for market value or redevelop using strategic investment funding from Nama, Mr Keegan said.

The council could also enhance the value of sites and buildings, and make them more attractive to potential buyers, by bringing them to the point where they have the necessary permissions to allow redevelopment to go ahead.

“We need to be a bit more courageous in using the powers that we have. If there are legal title issues, or if the owner doesn’t have the money or the wherewithal to do the job, in a rising market we might buy houses, do basic works and see if we can offload them,” Mr Keegan said.

“So it’s not as intimidating a process. We might offload them with a full planning permission, and we would do all the work in terms of the fire cert etc, so that somebody isn’t completely intimidated by the prospect of taking on an older property.

Proactive solution

“I think we need to be more inventive. In a rising market, now is the time to be getting out there proactively to try to address these sites.”

A report on the process, and a list of suitable sites will be presented to councillors in the new year.